Noticed by Oscar voters, this offbeat documentary explores the life of two colourful artists who have an unusual marriage. And while revealing their creative processes and the interaction between them, the film finds some potent things to say about the nature of relationships and especially about what holds opposites together.
Ushio Shinohara is a globally recognised artist best known for his boxing-glove paintings, created in one flurry of action across a vast canvas. At 80 he still has a mischievous glint in his eye, and is fairly oblivious about everyone around him, including his long-suffering wife Noriko. But she's now emerging as an artist herself with a series of cartoons depicting the life of her alter-ego Cutie, who like her arrived in America at 19 and met a 41-year-old boxing painter. Also like Noriko, Cutie immediately got pregnant and had to give up her art to take care of the family, manage the studio and keep her husband from falling apart.
Director Heinzerling gives the film a reality-TV tone by following this odd couple around as they prepare for their first joint gallery show. And along the way, we get some startlingly intimate details about their life together, augmented by Noriko's striking paintings, which are cleverly animated on-screen. Heinzerling also unearths some wonderfully telling archival footage, including TV interviews and home movies. And it's assembled together with a scruffy sense of energy that echoes Ushio and Noriko's own life.
Continue reading: Cutie And The Boxer Review
A terrific story is compromised by the demands of commercial filmmaking, adding action-thriller scenes to what should be an introspective drama while distractingly beefing up side-roles for American stars. But at the centre is another superb performance from Riz Ahmed (Four Lions), who again takes a complex, challenging approach to the subject of terrorism.
The narrative is fragmented into flashbacks as Changez (Ahmed) tells his story to an American journalist (Schreiber) in Pakistan while a tense hostage situation swirls all around them. Years earlier, Changez was a high-flying Pakistani student, graduating from Princeton and landing a prestigious job on Wall Street when an executive (Sutherland) recognises his talent. He also has a sexy artist girlfriend (Hudson). But all of this is shaken after the 9/11 attacks, when he is harassed by police and immigration officials. Fundamentally changed, he returns to Lahore to become a lecturer in violent uprisings. But this makes the CIA think that he's become a terrorist himself. Perhaps he has.
The various strands of the story are intriguing, and the actors are all watchable as they add layers to Changez's overall story. But the jumbled structure of the film reduces the narrative to a series of seemingly unrelated scenes. Hudson and Sutherland are solid but add little beyond their characters' stereotypical American reactions to Changez's decisions. The always superb Schreiber is better used as a more shady figure. But other characters vanish just when they get interesting, such as Changez's parents, played by acting legends Puri and Azmi.
Continue reading: The Reluctant Fundamentalist Review
Stars of 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' including Kate Hudson with her Muse frontman boyfriend Matthew Bellamy, Riz Ahmed and Kiefer Sutherland arrive at the film's premiere at New York's 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. Director Mira Nair and producer Lydia Dean Pilcher are also snapped on the red carpet as well as Mohammed Al Turki who is the executive producer of 'Adult World' which was also screened at the festival.
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Noticed by Oscar voters, this offbeat documentary explores the life of two colourful artists who...